Do you know where your Hamstrings are and what they do?
Well folks they are at the back of the leg behind the thigh, there are three muscles that when grouped together are known as the hamstrings. These muscles have a lot to do with how flexible we are. They are what keep us moving in many of our daily activities, including walking running and jumping and cycling with their opposing muscles the quadriceps, together they determine a good measure of our grace stance and flexibility.
The torn hamstring is a common athletic injury.
This does not mean that it only happens to athletes’ though you have probably heard it mentioned during the Olympics. It happens to lots of people who start off with good intentions to do sports, but not with the right training or backing.
The clinical presentation of this injury to a therapist can be quite dramatic and in the case of what is called an avulsion of the proximal hamstring origin. Surgery to reattach is the only answer.
You may also have heard about Victoria Pendleton and her Hot Pants, no folks she was not starting a 1960-70’s revival. She was wearing special pants to warm up the Hamstrings.
The three muscles, are the Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus, and Biceps Femoris (which has two heads) to flex the knee and extend the hip (except for one head of the Biceps Femoris). The hamstrings also cross and act upon the joints of both the hip and the knee, they need to warm up considerably for a Racing cyclist as when they take off at speed they burn a lot of energy and exert a lot of pressure up the leg and demand a lot of power from the leg.
When looking at these three muscles with four attachments. They all insert on the tibia and fibula of the lower leg crossing and essentially connecting with the muscles of the calf as they pass each other on the way to insert on the femur (thigh bone). They all originate on the Ischial Tuberosity, or should I say the bonny part you sit on of the Pelvis. But one of the heads of the Biceps Femoris originates on the Femur bone itself.
Semitendinosus and Semimembranosus extend the hip when the trunk is fixed; they also flex the knee and rotate the lower leg, i.e. When you bend the knee the long head of the Biceps Femoris extends the hip when we begin to walk. Both heads flex the knee and rotate the lower leg out when the knee is bent.
The fact is that many people have very tight hamstrings. Is due poor posture it is the main reason though the tendency these days towards a sedentary lifestyle does not help. Jockey’s suffer from tight Hamstrings, as this was something I dealt with quite a few times when I lived in Epsom, unfortunately Saturday and Sunday Sports when people have been sedentary all week then think they are 20 again at the weekend, not warming up and stretching , can cause a lot of problems and various injuries. The fact is that Tight Hamstrings are caused due to the Hypertonicity causes fluid movement to be hampered when this condition occurs, Tight Hamstrings can also cause Lower Back Pain as the tightness can pull the pelvis out of its correct aligned position.
5 Main reasons why we have tight Hamstrings
1) If you have a sedentary lifestyle due to work and you’re sitting or driving for a long time your Hamstrings are left to shorten they don’t do what they should be doing like stretching and walking, folks get out of the chair have a walk around or when you pull into a garage have a stretch you will feel better for it.
2) How you sit how many of us automatically, when in a chair at the computer put our feet back under the chair and hold our knees tight together, if you look down now you’re probably doing it, this causes unnatural tension on the Hamstrings, try stretching the legs out in front of you for a while and do a few circles of the feet it will loosen them up a bit.
3) You may have a back problem and sometime it is the Hamstrings that are causing the back problem, first of all your Hamstrings will try to stabilise the back so while compensating for a bad back become painful also, at the same time if you have tight Hamstrings they will cause you to have a bad back, this can happen to women with pelvic problems and also athletes.
4) Lack of core strength this again is because the Hamstrings have to stabilise the trunk, you have to build up core stability “ladies see Pelvic Pain on my blog it is essential you build up you Core Stability and guys Pelvic Stability for you should be a no brainer have a look at the blog
5) Habitual movement patterns I reckon we all know it takes about 28 days to change a habit and this is also true of habitual movement patterns and you do have to consciously change them if your Hamstrings dominate in your hip extensions “this means your leg moving backwards “over time it will hurt this movement should be dealt with by your Gluteal Muscles and be done in a fluid movement.